You’ve got a great product, and you are blowing your own trumpet so loudly, it would give Louis Armstrong a hernia, but it is all falling on deaf ears. Why? Just because you think you are awesome, it doesn’t mean potential consumers will believe you. However, if you managed to get your users and your employees to start lauding you instead, now that’s an entirely different story!
In an era of crowd-sourcing and funding user-generated content (UGC) makes perfect commercial sense. Today’s digitally savvy and active consumers are happy to take some guidance on what to share, yet only a small minority of brands provide any guidelines on what to write.
There are two great types of UGC, from the consumers themselves and your employees. These forms of brand advocacy increase your credibility, promote loyalty and allow you to gain actionable insights into the way in which your brand is being perceived. But before you rush to transform your community into a digital marketing force, it is worth considering giving consumers a helping hand into what your company values are and the voice you use to communicate with them.
People Trust People, Not Brands
Telling your brand’s story from a user’s perspective means they can start to imagine how they can relate to your brand and make it part of their lives. Social proofs through blogs, social media and testimonials promote your product as something that is valued and trusted on a consumer level, and allowing them to do so in their own voice comes across as genuine and open. By motivating and rewarding your users to become brand advocates in their own right.
Guide, Do Not Coerce
A brand bible helps consumers understand your values and aspirations as well as give them access to the correct logos and other useful resources, and gives them a sneak peek behind the scenes into what makes your brand tick—like a trusted confidante. And the important word here is guide, not dictate. The brand bible merely allows them to align their understanding of your company and their own perceptions. It empowers them to communicate their own thoughts more clearly and to feel connected and valued on an emotional level. And emotions sell!
It provides a feeling of involvement. Many of us humanize brands and what they stand for. If we have the opportunity to engage and feel a part of something, it makes us feel special. Think of your favourite brand and imagine if they asked to hear your story. How much more connected would you feel? Would you become an even better customer? Chances are you would tell anyone who would listen, share the brand’s story more often and buy more. It explains why UGC and brand advocacy go hand-in-hand.
But What Should It Contain?
Ideally, a brand bible should contain the company vision, mission, promise, values, personality and tone. It is also important to include a language and copy guide such as copy tone, writing tips and tricks, style samples, social media suggestions, and editorial guidelines. It is important to stress again that it is a guidebook, not a rulebook. Start imposing restrictions on your brand advocates and you face the danger of losing their trust in their value to you. A list of product-specific terminology and its meaning helps employees and users verbalise the things they might otherwise struggle to convey. And a non-preachy grammar guide is always a fascinating read, especially for would-be writers.
Pictures Matter Too
And don’t neglect graphics. Giving clear guidelines about graphics and colour suggestions can empower content creators to understand better the language of logotypes, fonts, images and use of colour. Plus, it helps ensure that they are not using the incorrect logo that might, in fact, damage the reputation of their work.
Types of user-generated content are blogs and blog posts, forums posts and comments, case studies, customer success stories, articles, ratings and reviews, social media posts and comments, videos, podcast and images.
What About the Workers?
And don’t forget employee advocacy. By inviting employees to be an active part of your communication strategy, because employees are trusted more as a voice than just the company, they can dramatically increase your social reach. This means as well as boosting their engagement, you can reach a new online audience. But you must make employees want to share content. As part of their personal development, encouraging them to develop their personal brand by providing them with content, they can become subject matter experts in their own right. And by extending the reach of your brand, so your credibility and social impact increase. And, according to LinkedIn, socially engaged companies are more likely to be perceived as more competitive, increase sales leads and attract top talent.
A Better Horn Section
By allowing others to do the advocating for you, you are encouraging loyalty, enabling quality content creation, increasing your reputation and growing mutual respect. The reach of a truly engaged community is something no company can achieve on their own. And being able to provide guidance and making sure it is a tool rather than a blocker, you can spread your message much further, and better still, let others be your mouthpiece.